UK Basketball: 'Kentucky Effect' produced championship results
Kentucky center Anthony Davis blocks a shot against Louisville in the national semifinals last weekend in New Orleans. Davis set a school record for blocks with 186 in one season. He was part of the ¿Kentucky Effect¿ that overwhelmed opponents this season. (Sun photo by Bill Thiry / April 5, 2012)
It led to memorable results for Kentucky this season, a campaign that ended with the school’s eighth national title and the state beaming with pride again three years into John Calipari’s tenure as coach of the Wildcats.
It produced a school-record 38 victories in 40 games and kept the school’s home winning streak intact at 52 games going into next season, making Rupp Arena more intimidating for future opponents.
Already a proven recruiter and successful coach, the “Kentucky Effect” helped land the coach his first national championship, a dream that most coaches never achieve in their lifetime.
The “Kentucky Effect” turned one player, Anthony Davis, into a superstar faster than any player in school history. In what will likely be his only season in Lexington, Davis finished with a single-season school record of 186 blocked shots and made his mark in six months. Not many players in modern history have impacted Kentucky basketball like Davis had in such a short amount of time. His presence in the post, especially on defense, was a difference-maker between a good Kentucky team and a great one.
From the beginning of the season, this particular team was destined for greatness, considering Calipari had the right mixture of veterans and newcomers to make a serious run at the national title. He also had a senior — Darius Miller — who entered the program a winner and left it as champion. Like the rest of his teammates, Miller sacrificed his own personal goals for the good of program.
Sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones took the same approach as Miller and reaped the benefits in the end. Kyle Wiltjer, a freshman, also took a backseat to the sensational six and accepted his role as the team’s seventh-man off the bench.
Recruiting top-notch talent such as Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague to play at Kentucky is one thing, but turning them into an unselfish unit is another.
The “Kentucky Effect” took over and the three freshmen became one unit, putting their teammates ahead of themselves. The makeup of their personalities produced a team chemistry and a bond that proved to be unbreakable. It was team trust that came through following a 73-72 loss at Indiana on Dec. 10, resulting in a 24-game winning streak.
That same drive and determination followed after the Wildcats lost to Vanderbilt in the finals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Just like the Cats did following the loss to the Hoosiers, they responded with a vengeance when it counted the most, a successful run that ended with the coveted trophy. They even defeated Indiana in the NCAA regional semifinals at the Georgia Dome.
The “Kentucky Effect” returned the Wildcats to their rightful place in college basketball, giving Kentucky its first national title in 14 years and leaving a lasting impression on the team’s top six players, who will probably never share the same court again for the rest of their lives.
The “Kentucky Effect” has carried the program in the past and the present and will continue to produce results in the future.